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Silicon Valley Employment Law Blog

Seek help when in a dispute over pension and retirement benefits

After working for a company for a long time, when retirement rolls around, you expect the benefits promised you to be paid out. Unfortunately, many individuals in California and elsewhere find themselves in a dispute over their pension and retirement benefits. Sometimes, threatening litigation is the only way to resolve such an issue.

Recently, a woman in another state had her concerns over her pension and retirement addressed after she threatened to sue her former employer. The amount she was initially paid out was lower than she expected based on her position and the retirement plan she says was made available to her. Through the negotiations process, she was able to get her employer to pay her an additional $14,764.

California woman wins EEOC claim

When an individual has a disability, his or her employer is required to allow accommodations for that disability. Refusal to do so goes against the American with Disabilities Act. Firing an employee because he or she requested certain accommodations is also not okay. Any California resident who has been wrongfully terminated or refused disability accommodations may file an EEOC claim to seek compensation for his or her losses.

A woman who believed she was wrongfully terminated and refused disability accommodations did file an EEOC claim against her former employer, Merritt Hospitality and HEI Hotels and Resorts, and won. The job assignment she was given at a hotel in San Diego reportedly had poor ventilation, which caused her to suffer breathing issues. She asked for an accommodation, but the company did not provide one that improved the situation. She eventually required hospitalization because her work environment caused her body to experience significant distress. Soon after that event, she was fired from her job.

Have a payment dispute with your employer?

All hard-working California residents want to be compensated fairly for their time on the job. Unfortunately, some find that this does not always happen. If you find yourself in a payment dispute with your employer, legal counsel may be able to help you resolve the issue.

According to federal and state laws, employers have to meet a minimum wage requirement, they have to pay overtime and they have to pay their employees in a reasonable time frame -- among other things. Wrong as it may be, some employers fail to do some or all of these things. The victims of such employers may feel there is little they can do, but that simply is not true.

Was age discrimination behind your wrongful termination?

Many employers in California and across the country are looking for younger individuals to come in and take jobs. This does not mean that they have the right to push older employees out unless there is a good reason to let them go. Those who believe that age discrimination contributed to their firings may file both discrimination and wrongful termination claims against their former employers.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act protects individuals aged 40 and older from age discrimination in the workplace. This law applies to private and government employees. This law also applies to employers who have at least 20 employees in their service and labor organizations with a minimum of 25 members.

Man experiences employment discrimination in interview

California laws and federal laws protect employees from unfair and discriminatory treatment in the workplace and in any hiring practices. Unfortunately, inappropriate treatment still happens, as demonstrated by a recent complaint from a California employee of Samsung. This worker claims he experienced employment discrimination on the basis of his religion when interviewing for a position.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations filed a lawsuit on behalf of the man against the large technology company. According to his account of what happened, the man states that the interviewer asked him several inappropriate questions about his religious practices. Ultimately, he did not get the job, and he believes that his religion was the main factor in that decision. 

Getting back pay owed after a payment dispute

Despite the best efforts of the federal government and the state of California, some employers fail to compensate their employees, as they should. Even so, when a payment dispute arises, the appropriate government agencies can help an employee receive the overtime or other pay that is owed. Once a company is ordered to repay a worker, it may take some additional effort to obtain that back pay.

California workers who receive the right to back pay through the Fair Labor Standards Act or the equivalent state law may need to go one step further. The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor may oversee the payments. An injunction could be put into place by the U.S. Secretary of Labor to keep an employer from withholding wages lawfully earned by an employee.

New physicians should consider these tips in employment contracts

After spending years in college, going through an internship and finally becoming a full-fledged physician, new San Jose doctors may begin job hunting. Accepting an offer is usually just the first step in getting hired. More than likely, new physicians will end up negotiating their first employment contracts and need help doing so.

A new physician can negotiate with a San Jose medical facility regarding salary and benefits. Before doing so, it would be a good idea to determine exactly what it is he or she wants out of the contract. Then, negotiations on these points can begin. Most employment contracts include a productivity element these days instead of just a straight salary offer, so it may be necessary to be willing to give up some on this or another point in order to reach the desired numbers.

Payment dispute between publisher and former employee

One of the basic expectations of employees at California businesses or others around the country is that they will receive the correct wages for the time they work on their jobs. Whether workers are paid a fixed salary or by hours worked, employers are required by law to compensate them. When this does not happen, a payment dispute may arise. Recently, such a dispute occurred in another state between a publishing company and one of its former employees.

The former employee at a weekly paper alleged that the publisher had kept employee money intended for health insurance premiums. She discovered this when an insurance claim was denied. The employer had not paid the premiums for four months and had not informed his employees that they were no longer insured. The publisher initially said that he would pay the back premiums and any out-of-pocket expenses the employees had incurred; however, this apparently never happened.

$29 million awarded in wrongful termination lawsuit

Employees throughout California and around the country hope they have the freedom to speak up about situations in the workplace that need improvement. For example, calling attention to staffing shortages does not seem to be an inflammatory report. However, a physician in another state contended that he lost his job because of that action. Recently, he was awarded $29 million in a wrongful termination lawsuit he had filed against his former employer.

The man had been the emergency department medical director of a hospital. In 2016, the medical facility also opened a pediatric emergency room, staffed overnight by the same physician who covered the adult ER. The physician raised concerns about patient safety due to the lack of staff on call. He also stated that some of the hospital's promotional information was misleading.

Employment compensation: Pay all time worked, even off-the-clock

"A fair day's wage for a fair day's work" was an old slogan that surfaced in early labor movements in the country. Exactly what is considered to be "fair" has long been an issue for employers in California and throughout the nation. Disputes regarding employment compensation are common when workers do not receive the proper pay for the hours they have worked. A recent ruling by the state Supreme Court provided clarification on how to fully define time worked on the job.

There are many scenarios when an hourly worker may perform tasks either before or after a scheduled shift. For example, an employee may need to attend a debriefing with someone on a previous shift or may need to prepare equipment or documents to start the day. After a shift, workers may need to finalize reports or communicate with others. In all these instances, the court deemed that they are time worked and should be compensated. According to California Labor Code, an employee should be paid for this time, even if it was off the clock.

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